“For me it’s about cross-pollinating, it’s that chance to bring kids who follow me into museums. When I was a kid my first introduction to art came through graffiti, skateboarding and the Pop Shop,” KAWS recalls. ”I remember the way Keith Haring’s art made me feel comfortable walking into a gallery or a museum. I just want to make stuff that no one is ever too stupid to get.” KAWS, quoted in Carlo McCormick, “From the Streets to TV to Fine Art Galleries, KAWS is Everywhere,” Paper Magazine, November 2013
Carlo McCormick, pop culture critic, curator, and senior editor of Paper Magazine, delivered a presentation on what KAWS collects, rather than his original plan to place the artist’s practice within an art historical context under the lecture title “KAWS and Effect.” McCormick explained that perhaps KAWS “chews his food to well” for that premise to work, but that it might be “interesting to see his diet” by taking a glimpse at his ever-growing and quite serious art collection. Beginning with two substantial artists within the realm of comic drawings, R. Crumb and Raymond Pettibon, McCormick pointed out that KAWS’s collection reflects his interest in artists who take the comic form and invest it with their own personal language. There were more than fifty examples of works, ranging from graffiti artists, such as the seminal Futura, to an array of Japanese artists who use the style of “super cute” to portray an underlying pathos that is shared by characters such as KAWS’s COMPANIONS, who are adorable yet melancholic as they display very human moments. It was nice to have someone as knowledgeable about KAWS and his work as McCormick here to give us insights into this otherwise enigmatic artist by considering what he cares enough about to collect.